The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001 created a regime which enables the Labour Court to make non legally binding Recommendations, and thereafter legally binding Determinations, with regard to trade disputes relating to terms and conditions of employment and dispute resolution and disciplinary procedures affecting workers for whom the employer does not engage in collective bargaining negotiations, ie non-union employers. The Labour Court cannot thereby impose collective bargaining on such an employer.

The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 amended the regime created by the 2001 Act (as previously amended by the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004). The 2015 amendments were, in large measure, designed to address, and indeed reverse, the interpretation given to the 2001 Act, and particularly the interpretation given to the term "collective bargaining", by the Supreme Court in Ryanair Limited v the Labour Court [2007] IESC6. In summary, in Ryanair, the Supreme Court concluded that in a non-union company, collective bargaining did not have to take the same form and adopt the provisions that would apply to collective bargaining with a trade union. Following the Ryanair decision, the 2001 Act fell into disuse.

The Labour Court Recommendation in Freshways Food Company and SIPTU (LCR 21242) of 3 June 2016 is the first such Recommendation of the Labour Court since the 2015 amendments came into effect.

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This article first appeared in Industrial Relations News on 7 July 2016.

This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.